Picture sharpness is one of the best things about DLP, which, unlike LCD and LCoS, doesn’t suffer from motion blur. Everything just looks a little more detailed, especially — and obviously — objects in motion. Close-up shots of faces are a good example of this benefit: You get to see all the pores, hairs, and wrinkles in a face, even if it moves around a bit onscreen. Take for example the beautifully shot (its cinematography was Oscar-nominated) Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Watching it, you see all the detail you’d ever want in the grizzled visages of Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) and Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer).
The moody atmosphere of Dragon also revealed one of the HC7800D’s great weaknesses: black level. When I didn’t use the projector’s auto irises, black level with its Standard lamp setting was a rather poor 0.016 footlamberts (ftL). In Low lamp mode, this only improved slightly to 0.011 ftL. Due to its fairly average light output, native contrast ratio averaged out to an uninspiring 1,492:1 — among the worst contrast-ratio measurements I’ve logged in recent memory. Blacks are at best a dark gray. The projector’s auto iris can lower its black level, but this feature only serves to darken the overall picture during dark scenes.
It’s possible to get additional light output from the HC7800D, but its color temperature accuracy decreases as you increase the Contrast control, with bright white images going blue-green. This can’t be compensated for through calibration. The High Brightness color temperature mode, for example, offers upward of 38 ftL, but the resulting image has so little red in it that it would not be hyperbole to call it Kermitvision.
The Mitsubishi’s measured color points are slightly off the Rec.709 HDTV standard, but not wildly so. The image with actual video — as opposed to test patterns — looks fairly accurate, with skin tones and the infinite shades of blue to be seen in Dragon reproducing well. Movies with more colorful images also looked good.
A brighter movie like The Adventures of Tintin also fared well on the HC7800D. In 3D mode, picture depth both in and out of the screen was quite good, and I didn’t notice any crosstalk. But that’s where the positives end. The EY-3DGS-78U 3D glasses ($199 each) are massive, bulky affairs with postage-stamp lenses. If you already wear glasses, wearing these is like staring at a movie through twin toilet paper rolls. Mitsubishi’s marketing makes a significant effort to claim that the lenses shutter faster than other active 3D glasses, and are timed to work with the color wheel to do all sorts of magic. The HC7800D does create a more pleasing 3D image than some other projectors, but the bulk of the glasses frames and the small size of the lenses largely offset any benefits.
There was another issue with 3D on the Mitsubishi. Enabling 3D mode automatically turned on Frame Rate Conversion, even though the settings for this feature were blanked out and inaccessible in the menu. The only way to fix this was to turn off the 3D mode, turn on FRC, and then adjust the FRC level to its minimum setting. Afterward, I could still see the effect of the FRC processing, but it didn’t have the same ultra-smooth “soap opera effect” that was visible with the higher FRC settings. The HC7800D’s processing also causes images to break up slightly in fast-motion scenes, which is an additional distraction.
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